Editorial

Memo to the public: "Just shut up"

The trend at all levels of governance is clear: Deployment of wind energy facilities will be expedited and no location deemed to be suitable by the industry will be denied.

Laws are being written and adopted that legally ban public participation from the decision process. In the remaining venues where communities can intervene, the enormous financial burden of "fighting city hall" is often prohibitive. Even when objections are recognized and validated by the decision makers, projects still get approved.

Memo to the public: "Just shut up"

This list of recent public actions represents only a small fraction of what Windaction.org is tracking daily.

United Kingdom: In March, Britain's Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband asserted that opposing wind farms should be as "socially unacceptable" as not wearing seat belts or failing to stop at a crosswalk.

In the State of Maine, psychiatrist Richard Jennings used a similar manipulative analogy when he advocated wind power before the State's Wind Power Task Force.

Memo to the public: "Just shut up"

Canada: This week, Ontario Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman reminded the public that the newly adopted Green Energy Act outlaws any resistance to the siting of wind energy facilities by municipalities regardless their concerns. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's edict that "NIMBYism will no longer prevail" sparked fears that all expressed concerns will be viewed as illegitimate or inconsequential.

Memo to the public: "Just shut up"

Illinois: Following a March 21 hearing which lasted a grueling 19 hours, DeKalb County hearing officer David Dockus recommended the County Planning and Zoning Committee deny a permit for NextEra Energy Resources' (formerly FPL Energy) proposed 151-turbine wind energy plant. NextEra submitted supplemental information to address some of the concerns, prompting a second hearing.

NextEra offered no witnesses for cross-examination at the second hearing. Dockus reversed his position and recommended the permit be approved.

The citizen group ‘Citizens for Open Government' filed a Motion to Dismiss detailing how NextEra's Application failed to meet the criteria for a permit and would require existing laws be ignored. Instead, the motion was ignored by Dockus and the County.

Memo to the public: "Just shut up"

New Hampshire: In March, Counsel for the Public Peter Roth eloquently delivered closing comments before the State's Site Evaluation Committee considering Noble Environmental's proposal to construct a 99 megawatt wind energy facility in Coos County. The project, located on some of the region's most sensitive mountain habitat, will negatively impact at least three State endangered or threatened species.

Having objectively weighed the evidence on behalf of the public, Mr. Roth concluded at the hearings "...based on what I've seen of the evidence, I don't think the Applicant has met its burden ...I honestly believe that this Project creates more impact than the power it will do [generate] is worth."

Shortly thereafter, State Attorney General Kelly Ayotte under political pressure, reversed Mr. Roth calling his statements "a misunderstanding". In the final memo to the Committee, Roth changed his position and delivered a letter of support with conditions - most of which were entirely ignored by the Committee.

Memo to the public: "Just shut up"

Massachusetts: The governor and legislature are moving quickly to pass a bill to promote industrial wind development in every community within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The legislation removes all local zoning control and veto power over onshore wind power plants at least 2 megawatts (MW) and shifts permitting authority to the state Energy Facilities Siting Board.

The Siting Board has never turned down a power plant application, according to records in its online database.

The proposed legislation also aims to reverse constitutional protections of public lands (including state forests, reservations, and parks) for industrial wind development, without public say. Similar legislation is pending in Wisconsin and New York.

Memo to the public: "Just shut up"

JUN 5 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20539-memo-to-the-public-just-shut-up
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